This first volume in a dark fantasy graphic novel series opens with an intense and disturbing prologue, in which Emily and her parents are involved in a terrible car accident. Emily and her mother manage to crawl from the overturned car, but her father is trapped, and they are unable to extricate him before the car plummets over the side of the mountain.
Cut to Emily, her mother, and her little brother Navin, who are on their way to their new house. It is an old place that belonged to Emily's grandfather, an eccentric inventor who had mysteriously disappeared years earlier. As Emily and Navin explore the house, mysterious creatures follow them around unseen. In the middle of the night they hear a strange noise, and when their mother goes down to the basement to investigate, she is attacked and carried away by a horrific, tentacled creature. The children give chase, guided by a mysterious amulet Emily found in her grandfather's study. They travel to another world, beset by nightmarish creatures but finding unexpected allies along the way (including a very cute pink bunny named Miskit).
I picked this book up because of the cover artwork, and when I flipped through it and glimpsed pieces of the story, I had to bring it home. It sets the stage nicely for subsequent volumes, and does manage to develop the family relationships fairly well along the way. It is a bit disjointed, though - some of the scene changes had me flipping back to earlier sections of the book, trying to figure out how things fit together. At the same time, the pacing was excellent, the suspense continually building and never letting up.
This book is not for the faint of heart - it is scary and offers a relentless look at loss and grief that may well be upsetting to younger readers. That said, it is exciting and emotionally honest, with amazing artwork that depicts a true sense of wonder. Kibuishi is the editor of the acclaimed graphic novel anthologies Flight (volumes 1 - 4), and the first one of those is on my reading pile as I write this. I look forward to reading (and looking at) the further adventures of Emily, Navin and Miskit.
Amulet, Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi (GRAPHIX, 2008)
Other blog reviews:
A Year of Reading
Back to Books
The Daily Cross Hatch
One Hundred Scope Notes